Saturday, February 22, 2020

Dave Loveless' Monterey Branch

Today I operated on Dave Loveless' Monterey Branch. I ran several trains in this TT&TO session, passengers and freights moved, and 10 visitors were busy throughout the day. Dave models the Southern Pacific Coast line between Gilroy and Salinas with combined staging representing San Jose and King City, as well as the branch line from Castroville to Monterey and Pacific Grove. Since that areas is just south from where I live, the locations are very familiar. One of the benefits of prototype modeling.

In the picture above I'm running the Gilroy Local. The wide shelf in front of the station is very useful for sorting car cards. I should keep throttle and paperwork there as well, instead of following bad habits and putting them in the station parking lot. Here's my clearance issued in Watsonville.

To stretch time and compensate for lack of distance between towns there are markers between towns on the the mainline like the one below indicating that one needs to stop here here for 5 minutes to let time elapse. This had the desired effect of slowing down the session. While it can be a bit of a drag for engineer and conductor, it allows sufficient time for station operators and dispatcher to go about their business.

An example of that positive effect happened when I was done with my work in Gilroy and wanted to return to Watsonville. Before leaving Gilroy I checked the schedule (as required by TT&TO rules) and noticed that I would not be able to make it to Watsonville ahead of first class train 36, and clear the main line in time before third class train 471 was due to depart Watsonville.
Hence I stayed in the siding in Gilroy and jokingly mentioned to the station operator that I'll be stuck here for at least the next 30 minutes. This led to some discussion between station operator, layout owner, and dispatcher. They knew that both trains I was waiting for were delayed, so I would not actually need to wait. Because there was sufficient time, Dispatch could set up a three-way call with station operators and generate an order in triplicate to give my puny Extra 2525 right over a first class and a third class train. Only after it was confirmed that the order was delivered to the crews of trains 36 and 471, I was handed my copy and was able to leave Gilroy.

The photo below shows on the left the order to run Watsonville to Gilroy. The clearance and order to return from Gilroy to Watsonville are in the stack underneath. The order giving me right over 36 and 471 is on the right.

Later in the afternoon I ran the southbound beet train from San Jose to King City. Here it is in Sargent. I stopped by the prototype location a few years ago and very much enjoyed servicing a location I had seen in real life.

Many buildings on the layout are simple boxes wrapped in photo prints, or functional stand-ins like the Sparolini Distributors Warehouse in Monterey. This low-tech approach is surprisingly effective in creating atmosphere and a feeling of place. I need to keep that in mind for future large layout projects.

Other areas are effectively detailed, like this warehouse scene in Ford Ord.

Of course Monterey's Canner Row is on the layout, as well as Pacific Grove, and even the sandpit at the end of the line in Asilomar.

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